Holland Haven Birding

Official Site Of The Holland Haven Birding Group ©

Holland Haven Bird Report for 2010  (R-V 12/11)

Welcome to the 2010 Holland Haven Bird Report

A total of 183 species were recorded during the year, one less than 2009 and 13 less than the 196 species recorded in 2008.


Two species, Alpine Swift and, without doubt the highlight of the year, the stunning and thankfully long staying, Baird’s Sandpiper, represented new additions to the overall site list.


This total does not include:


(i)                 Species reported where reasonable doubt exists concerning the identification claimed. i.e. Long Tailed Duck, Tawny and Red Throated Pipit. Regrettably once again a number of such reports made their way on to at least one of the national bird information services.

(ii)               Species recorded from outside of the site boundaries that without doubt passed by/over the recording area. i.e. multiple sightings of seabirds, waders, wildfowl and passerines passing south offshore/over Frinton-on-Sea reported by Paul Brayshaw. (Including two Common Cranes seen departing out to sea that would have been clearly viewable from the Haven seawall if anyone was there or if, once alerted, the ringing team had dusted off their running shoes and/or looked in the right direction!)

(iii)             Reports of Caspian Gull without supporting images.

(iv)             Species where escape from captivity is considered beyond reasonable doubt



The additions of Alpine Swift and Baird’s Sandpiper increases the total number of species recognised by ‘hollandhavenbirding.com’ as having occurred within the site boundaries (The Haven List) up until

31st December 2010, to 264.


Mick Rodwell notched up a total of 171 species, (93% of the total species recorded) 4 fewer than the 175 recorded by Pete Davis during 2009 and again well short of the all time record of 185 set in 2008 by Gary Gardiner.


In addition to the Alpine Swift and Baird’s Sandpiper other 2010 highlights included what was almost certainly our second ever Bittern, our fourth Hooded Crow, fourth and fifth Ospreys, fourth to sixth Red Kites, sixth of both Rough Legged Buzzard and Black Brant, seventh of both Pectoral Sandpiper and Wryneck, eighth to tenth Goosander and ninth of both Barred Warbler and Long Tailed Skua. Although not a national rarity, the first Treecreeper for 12 years, attracted a great deal of interest from a number of locals delighted at the opportunity to add this species to their patch list! By some contrast the explosion in breeding Avocet numbers divided opinion as throughout the spring and early summer they effectively took over the scrape driving every other migrant and resident wading bird off!


There were also unprecedented influxes of both Bearded Tits and Waxwings, plus a welcome return of multiple records of Lapland Bunting.   Also and as predicted in last years’ report, we are now obliged to re-evaluate the status of Cetti’s Warbler which, as well as being present in small numbers throughout much of the year, was proven to have bred for the first time (although the bitter protracted cold period during November and December could well have made colonisation somewhat brief).  Equally unexpected, in view of only a handful of previous records, was the confirmed breeding by a pair of Nightingales which took up residence in thick cover behind Gunfleet Sailing Club boat compound.


However, as to be expected, it wasn’t all good news.  Grey Partridge, with no confirmed records of live birds for over two years must be considered as probably lost.  Again, Little Terns remain scarce with all records squeezed in to a narrow 23 day period.  Turtle Doves remain ridiculously scarce and not a single record of Guillemot or (and surely just an anomaly) Pintail!! On the up side, there were multiple records of Pied Flycatchers in the autumn so perhaps 2009 was a low point after all.


In terms of ‘near misses’, a pale warbler seen very briefly by three observers at the Wryneck site, stimulated debate as to the genus involved (let alone the species!) although what was agreed was that it was something good!  In similar fashion a phylosc seen independently, if albeit briefly, by two observers either side of the B1032 just failed to get over the line as the Haven’s first Greenish Warbler.  Similarly, three very, very pale fly over Redpolls could not be given the benefit of the doubt as far as separation of Common from Arctic was concerned! Nonetheless 2010 proved to be an interesting year with virtually all Haven regulars able to add one or more new species to their Haven life lists....... including the compiler of this report...... who, for the second year running, notched up a most welcome three new site species during the year!


Ringing activity continued during the year, resulting in an impressive 785 birds of 45 species being rung, including a Barred Warbler, trapped whilst both the compiler of this report and the website co-ordinator were both at the opposite end of the country on Fair Isle!  Almost equally exciting were our first “controls”, a Dungeness Chiffy and a Suffolk Bearded Tit, plus recoveries of one of our Swallows controlled in Suffolk.  A Blue Tit at the Naze, plus the odd Greenfinch were also recovered locally.  Once again a number of colour-ringed gulls and waders were identified on the scrape and their origins and movements were determined from details taken in the field.  (Full details of all ringing activity etc can be found elsewhere on the website).


During the year, the site continued to attract an unwanted range of anti-social behaviour.  In addition to the (thankfully now) infrequent quad and motorbikes tearing up and down the car park, littering and most irritating of all, irresponsible dog walkers, (with fouling on an almost epidemic level and a complete disregard for dogs to be kept under control in the breeding season) continue to be the greatest concern.  In addition a number of unsavoury characters are from time to time still seen in and around the car park, despite the occasional presence of the local police (principally the PCSO’s) who, combined with intervention by local birders, continue to offer the only deterrent to such individuals.


Looking forward to 2011 the hollandhavenbirding.com editorial team along with a number of other ‘Haven Regulars’ continue to offer up predictions for new species to be added to the site list during the current year.






Pete Davis

Common (Mealy) Redpoll     



Black Winged Stilt



Golden Oriole



Kentish Plover


Clive Atkins

Caspian Tern


Clive Johnson

Tawny Pipit*



Black Kite



Greenish Warbler


Pete Newton

American Wigeon



Green Winged Teal



Sub Alpine Warbler


Pete Loud

White Rumped Sandpiper





Pete Newson

Marsh Warbler






Cory’s Shearwater



Ferruginous Duck




*Clive Johnson scored with his original prediction of Alpine Swift which duly flew past two lucky observers on the 7th April 2010!  As such he’s now plumped for Tawny Pipit. Not surprisingly nobody had Baird’s Sandpiper (about as unlikely one would have thought as Caspian Tern but there you go!).


**As finders of new birds for the Haven list, Simon and Mick had the opportunity to change their predictions (even stealing someone else’s, other than Clive J’s pick.... as he predicted right) but opted to retain their original choices.  Ironically both Pete Davis and Mick came close to finding their own predictions during the year, however as detailed above, the ‘pale’ Redpoll(s) that flew over low could have been Coue’s (it was that pale!) and the ‘probable’ Greenish was definitely one that got away!


Finally, two things....


Firstly, again a massive vote of thanks to everyone who contributed to the ‘Latest News’ section of the website as well as to Kas Aldous and Gary Gardiner, who between them throughout the year, continued to update the web page on a daily basis.  Without this wealth of data it would be impossible to construct anything other than a few lines on a handful of the rarer species.


Secondly, if those who provide reports could wherever possible confirm the birds age and sex, plus any other detail relevant (direction of flight, distance from shore etc) it would make the task of collation a little easier and reduce the amount of times I pester some of you for such detail!  (Pete Loud take particular note!)


Pete Davis                                                                                                            15th April 2011








Red Throated Diver

A single bird on the 1st January, a partially oiled adult close inshore on the 18th January followed by two noted on the 20th were the only reports for that month. After five noted offshore in one hour on the 13th February, singletons were seen on the 15th and 27th with two on the sea on the 28th February. Following two reported on the 9th March the only significant movement of the year was noted on the 13th when 30+ were seen moving north between 0730 – 1000 hours. The last report for the first winter period involved 4+ passing north east on the 18th March. Somewhat surprisingly the sole report for the second winter period involved a first winter individual drifting south west close inshore on the 28th October.

Black Throated Diver

Two records involving 3 birds;


13th March     (Two moving north early morning)

10th October  (One on the sea)


The March individuals formed part of a significant movement of Red Throated and Great Northern Divers.

Great Northern Diver

The sole record for the year involved an unprecedented northerly movement of 16 individuals between 0730 – 1000 hours on the 13th March. This included a ‘flock’ of 7 that landed on the sea briefly before continuing north east! Alerted by the ‘Frinton Bird Observatory’ to a general movement of Divers offshore, a handful of Haven regulars gathered at the sluice in time to witness a significant part of the passage which also included a large number of Cormorants.

Little Grebe      

An adult with 2 small young, seen on Holland Brook on the 3rd August suggested local breeding. Again one was seen on Great Holland Hall farm pond on a number of dates between early April and early May, although breeding was not suspected. One or two birds were seen regularly up until early April with four together on the flooded meadows the other side of the B1032 on the 23rd February. Other than one in front of the hide on the 29th June no further reports were received until the 21st October (two). Thereafter reported regularly until the year end with five seen together on both the 24th November and the 7th December.

Great Crested Grebe

One on the sea off the sluice on the 8th February was the first for the year. The same or another, in full summer plumage was offshore on the 15th February and again on the 25th February. No further reports were received until the second winter period when one flew north east on the 9th November. Another north on the 30th November was followed by four reported on the 21st December, the only multiple sighting of the year. The last report involved one offshore on the 23rd December.


A presumed small grebe seen flying very distantly towards Frinton-on-Sea on the 10th November could well have been the Slavonian seen some 20 minutes later close offshore from the ‘Frinton Bird Observatory’.


Six records of individuals passing offshore as follows;


18th March

24th April

25th April

20th May

20th June

6th September


The March individual passed south east close inshore, at one point gliding directly over the sea wall! Assuming six different individuals were involved 2010 compares poorly with the 11 birds seen on 10 dates last year.

Sooty Shearwater

Three individuals all passing north east on the 6th September (1115 hours, 1155 hours and 1230 hours respectively). All three moved through relatively close inshore and offered great views to the small band of sea-watchers gathered in the shelter immediately north of Clacton Sailing Club. An improvement on the blank year of 2009 however, and in a complete reversal to last year, 2010 failed to produce a single Manx!


A total of 124+ individuals were recorded over 17 dates (298+ individuals over 23 dates in 2009 and 283+ individuals over 37 dates in 2008).


The first record for the year involved a single bird passing offshore on the 10th June followed by three moving north on the 12th June. Three passing south on the 7th July was the only record for that month. Two south on the 23rd August and two sub adults seen moving north on the 30th August were the only records for that month. In early September reports were received for two on the 4th, a juvenile on the 5th and three sub adults on the 6th, all moving north. After one passing north on the 12th no further reports were received for September until the 25th when 45+ (28 moving north, 17 south) were recorded during a sea watch between 1430 – 1600 hours. With 40+ noted the following day, the 26th and 16 moving north on the 28th September this four day period ultimately accounted for 80% of the birds seen during the entire year. Singletons were seen passing north on the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th November with the last bird of the year, a juvenile, noted passing north on the 30th November. A quieter year than of recent for this species partly due at least to a significant reduction in time spent by the regulars sea watching.


Recorded in every month (although few reported mid March to mid June) with the maximum day count (and record count for the site) of 77 on the 13th March (same day as significant movement of Divers offshore – see above) including a single flock of 71 which landed on the sea briefly early morning. The only other double figure counts involved a flock of 21 flying over the grazing marsh on the 6th September, 19 at rest on the scrape island on the 3rd November (with 10+ there on the 25th) and 11 arriving in off the sea on the 16th September.


One record of one bird.


With the individual in 2009 last recorded on the 28th November of that year (coinciding with the onset of a severe period of cold weather) it seems quite likely that a Bittern seen by Mick Rodwell on the 12th January flying from the direction of the golf course area, continuing across the grazing marsh, until disappearing from view across the other side of the B1032, most likely constitutes the second site record.

Little Egret

Recorded in every month except September. Again the vast majority of reports involved single birds only. From the first seen on the 3rd January only reported occasionally thereafter during the first winter period and it was not until the 11th March when two birds were recorded on site. Two were again noted on the 15th April (the only record for that month and possibly true migrants) after which scattered reports of singletons was received through to the end of June. Two were seen on the 17th July (one the next day) and again on the 31st July after which no reports were received until one on the 27th October.  What was possibly the same bird was seen on the 30th October with no further reports until the last week of November including the years’ day maximum of three on the 27th seen flying towards Frinton-on-Sea. Reported on five dates during December with two on the 7th and the last for the year seen on the 27th December. Overall numbers appear to have been similar to 2009.

Grey Heron

Recorded in every month in small numbers. Maximum day count a very modest 4+ on the 31st August.


Four records, all in May involving maximum of six birds, typically none of which lingered.


On the 6th May, John Sawyer noted an adult arriving on the scrape which lingered for a few minutes before disappearing south east at 1300 hours


On the 12th May one lingered on the scrape between 0900-1015 hours before flying off north towards Great Holland


On the 22nd May, Gary Gardiner located an adult on the scrape which remained for less than 30 minutes before flying off north east at 1340 hours.


On the 30th May, Peter Newson was in the car park at 1545 hours when he noted three (two adults and a sub adult) flying towards the scrape. They stayed for 10 minutes only before departing south west over Holland-on-Sea at 1555 hours!


The above represents the 10th to 13th confirmed records (totalling a maximum of 20 Spoonbills) all of which have occurred since May 1996. It is possible that the records for the 6th, 12th and 22nd May all relate to a single wandering individual. In addition to the above a report was (rather unhelpfully) received by email late on 27th April of an individual seen on the scrape earlier that day.

Mute Swan

Present throughout the year. Did not breed although a nest was built then abandoned - probably before eggs were laid.


The resident adult on Great Holland Hall farm pond maintained its lonely vigil throughout the year. In fact, other than 2 seen on the 8th March this bird was responsible for all reports during the first winter period. A flock of 12 seen passing over north east on the 18th April was the highest count of the year. A pair was noted on many dates across the site between early May and late June when a nest built immediately in front of the hide during mid May appeared to have been abandoned by mid June. Other than the resident on the farm pond and a singleton seen on the Haven proper on the 10th July the only other record received until November involved four flying over on the 13th September. Three seen on the 1st November and an adult and a youngster seen on the 6th November were the last reported for the year. One curious occurrence involved what appeared to be a perfectly healthy looking individual sitting on the sluice on the 17th April!

Whooper Swan

Following a blank year in 2009 this year produced three records, all in the second winter period, involving 18 birds as follows


10th November.  Nine adults on the sea between the sluice and the golf course until 1415 hours when they flew off strongly inland


21st and same 23rd December. An adult and juvenile ranging between the arable, the scrape and, when last seen, the grazing marsh on the other side of the B1032.


23rd December. Five adults and two juveniles flew in off the sea south of Clacton Sailing Club at 1415 and continued inland parallel to Holland Brook until lost to view.


A good year for this “difficult to see” Haven year tick!

Bewick Swan

The sole record for the year involved five adults originally located on the arable mid morning on the 1st December. By lunchtime they had moved to the scrape and could be viewed from the lay-by on the B1032 for those too lazy to walk to the hide!

Pink Footed Goose

Two records involving five birds as follows;


A single bird intermittently from 3rd January to 3rd February

Four, 19th and 20th February


The singleton associated with the local Grey Lags and would go missing for long periods, i.e. 6th to 16th January and 24th January to 1st February. The four seen over two days 19th and 20th February arrived independent of Grey Lags and kept together as a ‘unit’. As such for the purists amongst Haven list keepers (if any exist!) these are surely a better bet in terms of truly wild origin. The above represents the 14th and 15th record for the Haven.

Bean Goose

One flock of 10 birds


10 ‘’rossicus’’ (Tundra Bean Goose), 3rd and reported early morning 4th December.


Presumably arriving in off the sea, the flock was heard calling overhead by Pete Davis who was watching a Lap Bunting on the Golf Course bridle path around lunch time. The flock appearing to go down on the arable and again presumably viewable from the hide.  Sure enough after an anxious few minutes involving a brisk walk back down the seawall and scanning through the Brent and Grey Lags, they were picked out towards the right hand end of the flock. Of the Haven regulars Ian Minton and John Sawyer were able to get to the hide and see the flock as they continued to graze on the winter wheat. Apparently the flock was still present at around 0800 hours the following morning, until a thunder-flash was ignited as a ‘goose scarring’ device by the local farmer after which they (naturally) took off and disappeared from view to the west. With none recorded in 2009 this represents the 14th site record and the first since three were seen in November 2008.


What was almost certainly the same flock was later seen that day in a crop at Wigborough Wick Farm, Colne Point. (Not found by Clive Atkins, but by his brother-in-law, who casually mentioned the sighting to Clive some days later after they had departed. Good lad!)

White Fronted Goose

Recorded in both winter periods.


The five birds present from 30th December 2009 were still present on New Years’ Day with seven present the following day 2nd January. With at least six still present on the 5th numbers increased to 11 on the 6th January after which no reports were received until one was seen on the 12th January. A single adult and immature reported independently over the next few days caused some amusement in terms of ageing until both were seen together on the 20th January! The 21st January saw the highest count for the first winter period when 13 were present. Five flew west on the 23rd and these or another five were present the following day, with the adult and immature from mid month still present on the 25th January and again on the 3rd February with the juvenile remaining on the 4th February - the last report for the first winter period. The only reports for the second winter period involved 16, the best day count of the year, scattered amongst the Grey Lags on the grazing marsh on the 21st December, and two adults reported on the 23rd December.

Greylag Goose

Present throughout the year in variable numbers culminating in maximum day count of 480 on the 21st September (by far a new site record after 380 recorded on the 19th September 2009).  One pair (including a pale hybrid type parent) bred raising seven goslings.


Following 224 present on the 21st January numbers reduced through February and early March with only single figures recorded between the end of that month and late June. Numbers then increased from early August, peaking in late September with 300+ still being recorded on odd dates in November and December.  After an apparent recent stabilisation in numbers, notably in autumn, this species appear to once more be on the increase for the second year running. As ever a small number of hybrid individuals are often present with the main flocks.


The table below highlights maximum monthly counts (not including goslings).




21st  January


1st February


1st March


19th April


24th May


4th June*


21st July


30th August


21st  September


18th  October**


11th + 15th November


13th December



*other than 4 on the 9th only report during June other than breeding pair.

**only two counts in entire month so likely under estimate

Canada Goose

Recorded erratically in variable numbers between 1st January and 10th September. For the second year running, none were reported during the last three months of the year. Reported as ‘being seen’ on the grazing marsh on New Year’s Day no further reports were received until three noted on the 11th February. Between one and four were subsequently reported on eight dates up until the 27th April with none lingering more than a couple of days. Thereafter no reports were received until the autumn when three were noted on the 12th August, a flock of 29, the highest count of the year, joined the Grey Lags on the 15th August with (presumably, as opposed to a different flock,) 23 still remaining on the 18th August. The last report of the year involved three seen on the 10th September. Unless significantly under recorded/under reported, it is sobering to acknowledge that this often considered commonplace species was only noted on 13 days during the entire year, i.e. the same number of days as Pink Foot and Bean Goose combined!

Barnacle Goose

The sole record for the year involved three together on the rather late date of the 9th May. They appeared from the north west, flew out to sea then veered north east parallel to the coast before being lost to view! This represents the tenth site record and the third year on the bounce where a single party have been recorded. At least in the two previous years they had the good grace to land, even if it was only for 20 minutes!

Brent Goose

Recorded in every month except June and August.


During the first winter period recorded regularly up until 8th April when a singleton was noted flying over the car park. Following 50+ reported on the 6th January the only three figure count for the first winter period concerned 140+ seen on the 23rd January. The next highest count involved 89 noted two days later on the 25th January which comprised 72 in front of the hide plus 17 moving north east offshore. Following a late single bird on the scrape on the 20th May an unusual mid to late summer record concerned a single bird on the scrape on the 13th July (mirrors 4 seen on the 11th July 2009). The first for the autumn proper involved one passing south west on the 13th September. Following odd birds passing offshore on the 26th, 512 were noted on the 28th September between 1445-1545 hours of which virtually all were passing south west. Thereafter birds were reported on six dates during October with a maximum of 71 seen on the 10th. In November 223 passed by during a three hour sea-watch and as birds started to be noted grazing on the arable mid month around a thousand were seen up on the fields on the 26th with around 500 present regularly during the first two weeks of December, peaking to 1300, the years’ best count, on the 16th December, a 300 increase on the estimated 1000 reported the day before. Around 800 were still present on the 27th December despite the farm owner best endeavours to move them on through the liberal application of thunder flashes and conventional bird scaring devices!


Pale Bellied Brent


One was seen frequenting with Grey Lag Geese on the 12th January. What is assumed to have been the same bird was with Dark Bellied Brent in front of the hide on the 17th and back with Grey Lags the following day 18th January.


One was noted with the Dark Bellied flock on the arable on the 11th December with three seen on the 12th and one again noted on the 16th and 23rd December.


With a minimum of four birds involved the above represents the 7th to 10th site records.


Black Brant


On the 15th December, John Sawyer found an adult in with the Dark Bellied Brent flock resting offshore from the sluice. This represents the 6th site record and the first since the winter of 2007/2008. What was presumably the same bird was reported in to 2011.

Egyptian Goose

Two records involving four birds


Two were on the scrape intermittently between the 9th and 19th September.


The same or another two were seen on the scrape during the morning of the 23rd December.


The above represents the 7th and 8th records and follows two records in both 2009 and 2008.


Recorded in every month except September. Two pairs again bred, hatching a total of 17 ducklings (8+9) of which one entire brood of 9 plus one remaining/surviving youngster from the earlier brood were still present on the 10th August. Juveniles were seen thereafter until the 25th August when three were still present.


Following three seen on the 18th January reports of single figure numbers were received intermittently until the 23rd February when 12 were reported increasing to 20 on the 26th and 32 on the 27th February. Although recorded virtually daily thereafter throughout the spring and summer numbers fluctuated and it was not until the 21st May that 32 were again reported increasing to 40+ the following day the 22nd, 43 on the 24th and the maximum day count of the year and all time record for the scrape, 44 on the 25th May (beating last years’ record of 43 by one!). Numbers then fell back to 20 during the second and third week of June, reducing further to eight on the 22nd and with two pairs settling down to breed from the 29th June and then present throughout July. The first for Autumn involved four seen on the 25th October. Thereafter, with the exception of 20 passing offshore during a three hour sea watch on the 7th November, only single figure counts were received on 12 dates until the last report of the year, five on the sea on the 6th December.


On average 300 to 400 were present daily throughout the first 4 weeks of the year increasing to around 850+ on the 29th January which proved to be the highest day count of the first winter period. Up to 500 were reported on various dates throughout February reducing to around 250 by mid March with most of those departing abruptly towards the month end. Forty on the 28th March had reduced to around 15 by the first week of April after which no more than five were seen on any day until the last two had departed by the 28th April. There were no unseasonal or summering birds this year with the first returning birds (two) reported on the 31st August. Although recorded virtually daily thereafter numbers remained modest until mid October by which time over a hundred were around. After numbers increased to around 350 by around the end of November no further influxes were discerned until the 20th December when around 1000, the highest day count of the year, were estimated to be loafing around in large rafts offshore. Numbers returned to the 300 mark the next day and remained at that level until the year end. 


After the first for the year, a drake, on the 5th January small, single figure numbers were around intermittently until the 22nd March with a maximum of nine present on the 3rd March.  With no April records, a pair paid a fleeting visit on the 18th May and again on the 5th June, after which no reports were received until one appeared on the 15th October, the sole record for that month. Two on the 8th November was followed by a female on the 11th and 4 on the last day of the month the 30th. After two drakes on the 7th December none were reported until a drake was seen on the sea on the 20th. After four the following day 22+ were seen on the 22nd increasing to 25+ the next day the 23rd December, the highest count of the year. Only one was reported by the 27th with the last report of the year being eight on New Years’ Eve.


Recorded in every month. With very few recorded during the first two weeks of the year an influx during the third week resulted in around 800+ reported on the 17th January, by far the highest day count of the year. Although 450+ were present on the 4th March numbers reduced to around 40 by the month end. Numbers continued to drop slowly throughout April with just a single female around by the 28th which remained throughout May. Only three reports were received for June, four on the 5th and two on both the 27th and 28th June. No further reports were received until seven were seen on the 21st July. Small numbers were noted regularly thereafter until the second week of August when 90+ were noted on the 16th and 228 counted on the 30th August. Numbers fluctuated dramatically throughout the second winter period due to the onset of hard weather resulting to a maximum of 300+ by end October early November followed by an eight week period of modest numbers until increasing again to 350+ on the 31st December.


Present throughout the year. Small numbers bred on the scrape, the farm pond at Great Holland Hall and probably at the old-folks home. Ducklings noted from 14th May. The only significant report concerned a total of 80+ on the 15th January and 57 counted on the scrape on the 30th August. Almost certainly under recorded.


Three records involving three birds as follows;


1st April (drake)

31st July (female/immature)

8th to 11th October (female/immature)


All three were on the scrape. The fine April drake performed until early afternoon only after which it walked in to the long grass and promptly disappeared, never to be seen again! Although only available on the one day the July bird at least performed well throughout and for good measure the four day October bird ensured most patch regulars got this species for 2010!


























Recorded in every month. No evidence of breeding although in May a single drake was seen on the 7th, 10th and 11th with a pair present on the 21st. What was assumed to be the same pair were also seen on the 1st and 5th June, the only records for that month. Numbers in the first winter period were significantly lower than last year with a maximum of 25 counted on the 21st January. This also proved to be the highest day count for the year. The maximum day counts for both February and March (see below) were the only other double figure counts until 10 on the 30th July. The first birds of the autumn involved three on the 22nd July after which reports were received regularly until seven plus on the 3rd September after which none were recorded until the second week of October. Through to the end of the year small numbers were again regularly reported until the last count of the year, four on the 16th December. Twelve on the 26th October was the only double figure count during this period. All reports refer to birds seen on the scrape with the exception of a duck on the Great Holland Hall farm pond on the 6th January and the 4th February with a pair there on the 16th and 25th March.




21st January


27th February


4th March


4th – 9th April


21st May

2 (pair)

1st and 5th June*

2 (pair)

30th July


30th August


3rd September**


26th October


1st November


12th and 16th December***



*only records for June

**only record for September

***only records for December


With no records in 2009 this species re-appears in 2010 thanks to a single drake seen late afternoon on the 3rd December loafing offshore with the Wigeon flock. Needless to say it didn’t hang around. It has now been around three years since a Pochard has graced the scrape!

Tufted Duck

Five records involving four to six birds as follows;


9th May (a pair over the scrape continued north east without landing)

22nd May (drake on the scrape)

27th May (drake dropped in to the scrape briefly before heading off south)

31st May (drake reported)

3rd December (female or immature on the sea briefly with Wigeon before flying off south west)


The December record echoes a similar occurrence last year in terms of location and the observers’ initial thoughts of a potential rarer species! However unlikely, it is conceivable that the reports of a drake on three dates during the last 10 days of May refer to a single if somewhat flighty individual.

Common Eider

Reported on four dates involving total of 54 birds as follows;


26th September (report of two, no other details)

7th November (total of 16 passed north 1000-1300 comprising of a mixed flock of 14 made up of 6 drakes and 8 female types,  plus two separate drakes)

9th November (4 north, comprising 2 adult drakes, an immature drake and a female type)

22nd November (32 north, comprising a flock of 14 at 1058 made up of an adult drake, immature drake and 12 female types plus a flock of 18 at 1205 which included 2+ drakes)


The flock of 18 on the 22nd November is the largest for 24 years when 30+ were recorded on the 20th March 1986. An erroneous report of 6 Long Tailed Duck with 8 Common Scoter north on the 7th November almost certainly refers to the ‘mixed flock’ of Eider detailed above on that date.

Common Scoter

Other than a rather vague report of ‘Common Scoter passing offshore’ on New Years’ Day the only records received for the first half of the year involved singletons seen on the 13th February and the 9th April. No further reports were received for over four months until 200+ were recorded passing offshore on the 23rd August, by far and away the highest count of the year. Following a singleton reported on the 26th August there was three reports only for September, 15+ passing north on the 6th, six reported on the 26th and a total of 21 seen moving south between 1445 – 1545 hours on the 28th September. With no reports in October the final records of the year all occurred during November including a group of five female/immature landing on the sea on the 2nd, 20 passing offshore on the 7th, 23 passing south the following day the 8th, two south on the 11th and the last report of the year, two north on the 22nd November.

Month  (number of days recorded)


January (1?)


February (1)




April (1)








August (2)


September (3)




November (5)


December (0)



Assuming zero duplication a total of 297+ were recorded at the Haven during 2010 over 12 days although two thirds of this total were seen on the one day, 23rd August. This compares with 439 over 26 days during 2009 and 921 over 34 days during 2008 (albeit over 50% of these occurring on a single day, 17th August 2008.)  If 2008 and 2010 are typical, then mid August is clearly a time to expect good numbers of this species passing offshore.

Velvet Scoter

One record involving two birds as follows;


26th September. Two were reported, no further details.


With five records in 2009 and three in 2008 it would appear that this species has once again reverted to being a true rarity, however a significant reduction in time spent sea watching by locals compared to recent years may skew the true position. This represents the 13th site record. Only the second record for September and the second earliest autumn occurrence.


Four records involving eight birds as follows;


2nd January (drake initially on the sea before appearing to fly up Holland Brook!)

13th March (two drakes on the sea off of the sluice briefly before heading south west)

7th November (total of four 1000-1300 hours. Pair and two separate drakes all north east)

21st November (drake offshore in with the Wigeon flock)


This year Goldeneye outnumbered Velvet Scoter!

Red Breasted Merganser

Two records involving total of five birds as follows;


9th October (singleton reported. No details)

9th November (2 pairs passing north east)


A poor year for a species that, at times, can prove challenging to add to the individual patch year list.


Three records involving three birds as follows;


13th November (female flew over the ringing compound late morning before continuing south west parallel to the coast)

22nd November (female north east offshore at 1146 hours)

4th December (drake passing offshore)


The above represents the 8th to 10th records. Seven of the ten all time records have now occurred during the last three years!



Holland Haven Bird Report 2010  (PAGE 2)